Can an employee be forced to purchasemeals from their employer?

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Can an employee be forced to purchasemeals from their employer?

My 16 year-old just started his first job. However, he is not allowed to bring his own lunch/drink; he has to purchase lunch/drinks there – water is not provided. He works outside in the heat and cannot bring anything with him. This is not acceptable to me but I was told to butt out by my wife. I know this has to be illegal, correct?

Asked on October 3, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, Mississippi

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

No, it is not illegal. Employers have enormous latitude to set terms and conditions of employment, and requiring employees to purchase items from their employer, or barring them from bringing in outside food or drinkk, is legal. Certainly, if this policy caused an injury to an employee--e.g. dehydration; or a diabetic's blood sugar getting out of range--there could possibly be civil liabiity for it, as there could potentially be for any work policy that results in injury. However, in the absence of something giving rise to liability, there is nothing illegal about an employee barring employees from bringing outside food or drink with them to work or the workplace. There are many workplace policies, unfortunately, which may be "wrong" in many ways but which are nonetheless permitted or legal.


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